We are rapidly approaching the first College Football Playoff rankings for the sophomore season for the new world order in the sport. The new system feels like a familiar old friend already, probably because it resembles more closely the bygone era of polls determining everything in the sport.
The 16 years that came in between the poll era and the playoff era will always remain contentious for fans and coaches and players and administrators and media alike. It was a system with which so many held a love/hate relationship over the years. It at once revolutionized a regional interest into a national pastime, generating all the while vehement discussion and fostering the astronomical rise of television contracts and the era of the omnipresent multimillionaire head coach.
I speak, of course, about the dearly departed Bowl Championship Series.It was often pilloried as unfair, unscientific, and inaccurate to its core. It created as many snoozefests as blockbusters over its existence. But for all of its ills, the BCS acted as a necessary fulcrum between a less cohesive time when the national championship was a mythical construct and the birth of a fully codified playoff bracket last year.
To honor that history, but mainly out of a sense of curiosity, I started calculating how this year’s crop of teams would stack up by the BCS calculations last week. Other than the demise of the Harris Poll, which was created to replace the AP Poll in the formula in 2005 and was dissolved after the BCS was superseded by the CFP, all of the other elements are still in place. All six computer polls still put out weekly numbers. The coaches poll is still churning out its weekly rankings. And the AP Poll, for our purposes, is almost a better option than the Harris Poll ever was to serve as the second human leg of the tripod that comprises BCS scoring.
It provides a nice counterbalance to weigh our proprietary Pigskin Rating System against here at Sports Unbiased, and it also allows us to better appreciate the increased mid-major access available to Group of Five schools in the current system. Most importantly, though, it continues a tradition of providing a concrete thing to argue about that has been sorely missing with the CFP selection committee’s inevitably subjective viewpoint taking away any semblance of pseudo-science from the situation.
If the BCS formula was still utilized to set the new playoff field, we’d see Ohio State taking on TCU and LSU facing Clemson in the two semifinal matchups. Michigan State and Baylor would be the two teams on the cusp, ostensibly defeated for their respective conference championships. It’d be a hard quartet to argue against, at least given what we know so far about the season…
… but of course it isn’t used anymore, the three-part formula replaced with a dozen selectors sitting in a room arguing merits of each team. So here’s what the BCS rankings would look like for Week 8 of the 2015 season… use them for what they’re worth, which is jack squat in today’s playoff landscape other than a fun thought exercise and a great basis for arguments.